England tour of India - Cricket: Giles shines as England beats India by 2 runs

Published: Friday, February 1, 2002, 23:53 [IST]
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New Delhi: Unpredictable India frittered away the chance of clinching the series as it went down by a mere two runs in a nail biting fifth One-day international on Thursday to enable England to keep its interest alive in the six-match series. In clearly the most thrilling match of the series so far, fortunes fluctuated till the very last over in which the Indians needing nine runs to win the match could muster only six to finish at 269 for eight in the allotted fifty overs.After sitting pretty at 211 for three at one stage, India collapsed in a heap with Ashley Giles, who had traumatised it in the Test series, returning to haunt it again with a career best five-wicket haul. Virender Sehwag and captain Saurav Ganguly had begun the chase by setting the ground ablaze but could not complete the task and after yet another middle-order collapse, it was left to Ajit Agarkar and Sarandeep Singh to carry India past England's total of 271 for five.The two of them made a valiant effort with Agarkar smashing a 24-ball 36 with four fours but it was not enough for India. Earlier, the hosts had let their initial grip slip away to allow England post a total that was a too big for their comfort. Opener Nick Knight who had failed in the first three matches of the series, continued the momentum he had gained from the solid 74-run knock at Kanpur in the fourth match and hit a brilliant 105, his fourth century in One-dayers to lead England to a challenging total. It looked like a repeat of Kanpur when Tendulkar and Sehwag began their early onslaught. Despite asserting on Wednesday that he himself would open the innings with Tendulkar, Ganguly probably could not overlook Sehwag's credentials and sent the Delhi batsman ahead of him once again.Unlike before, Sehwag took the first strike this time and much to the delight of a frenzied capacity crowd, despatched the very first ball of the innings to the boundary.That started the fireworks as Tendulkar joined in collecting fours and the first three overs produced 31 runs. The crowds however went silent when Tendulkar edged an Andrew Caddick delivery to wicket-keeper James Foster after scoring a 16-ball 18 with the help of three fours.But Sehwag's bat continued to talk and he hit Andrew Flintoff in the next over for three fours to bring up the team's 50 in only the sixth over. The guns stopped booming after that flier before Ganguly exploded near the 30-over mark. Knight caught Sehwag in the first slip, he had dropped him earlier in the same position, off Gough for a 36-ball 42 that was studded with seven hits to the fence. Ganguly hardly looked convincing when he started his innings but the openers had put the team in a position where he could afford to take his time to settle down.Once he had got his eye in, Ganguly unleashed a flurry of fine strokes that have been so rare from the captain in recent past. Ganguly, who had got off the mark with a smashing four over bowler Gough's head, repeatedly came out of his crease to the spinners and was never afraid of going over the top.All the three sixes were clean hits that landed well into the spectators rows behind long-on fence. Kaif displayed good temperament for a person playing his first One-day knock and batted confidently throughout.They took the score to 211 before suicidal instincts gripped the team and five batsmen gifted their wickets to Giles. Ganguly and Kaif both fell in the same over to irresponsible shots and Hemang Badani, Ajay Ratra and Anil Kumble arrived at the wicket just to mark their presence.Ajit Agarkar and Sarandeep Sing made a valiant effort towards the end, remaining unbeaten on 36 and 6 respectively, but that proved to just short of what was required. With nine runs needed of the last over by Darren Gough the Indians could muster only six. PTI

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